Gregory Babbitt

Assistant Professor

Contact Information

OfficeGOS 1334
Phone(585) 475-6246

B.A. in Zoology (Ohio Wesleyan University)
M.S. in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation (University of Florida)
Ph.D. in Biology (University of Florida)
postdoc - Evolutionary Functional Genomics unit at The Biodesign Institute (Arizona State University)
I initially trained as an evolutionary ecologist with a focus on functional morphology in avian and insect systems.  During my post-doc, I transitioned to the field of molecular evolution.  I also have over 10 years of experience as an aviculturist and zookeeper at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Columbus, Ohio (working large cats, hoofstock and birds) and conducting reproductive research on captive birds at Disney's Discovery Island birdpark in Orlando, Florida.  

Job Responsibilities

Cell and Molecular Biology for Engineers I and II
Computational Genomics

Research Interests

The Computational Molecular Evolution Lab 
We are a mostly “dry-bench” or computer-based laboratory studying the evolution of the molecular components of cells.  Research at this level requires an interest in all the fundamental natural sciences, including biology, chemistry and physics, as well as some skills in mathematics and computer programming. We are keenly interested in the physicochemical elements of molecular systems that are evolvable (i.e. can change at some heritable level).  Biophysics and biochemistry underlies all molecular processes in the cell, but only some biological molecules, historically known as “semantides”, can contain information that is subject to heritable molecular change over deep evolutionary timescales. These are typically aperiodic polymers such as nucleic acids (DNA or RNA) and proteins. Biophysical interactions between these various polymers often define how gene activities are regulated and it is well-documented that species are as much defined at this level of regulatory interaction as they are at the structural level of proteins encoded by DNA. We are currently exploring the evolution of the biophysical properties of whole genomes and their interactions with DNA binding proteins.  We often combine biophysical modeling and computer simulation with comparative genomics and epigenomics to identify where natural selection has acted upon DNA-protein interaction. Our long-term research goal is a more biophysically-grounded understanding of the functional evolution of these information-containing molecules in the cell.
If you are a student at RIT looking for research experience and you meet the following qualifications, please do not hesitate to contact me. You should be
1) currently enrolled in any RIT program related to the goals of my lab (biology, chemistry, physics, computer science or biomed engineering)
2) able to devote at least one year to the development of a project
3) rather comfortable with one higher-level programming language (e.g. Perl, Java, Python)
4) familiar with some basic statistics (R programming is a big plus) 
5) have taken at least one course in molecular biology  
Past/Present projects (collaborators)
-       Molecular evolution of nucleosome/chromatin/epigenetic states ( ( ( (
-       Molecular evolution of disordered proteins (Osier lab and Skuse lab - GSOLS)
-       Nucleic acid biophysics, amino acid metabolism and the evolution of the genetic code (Hudson Lab - GSOLS) ( )
-       Modeling of interaction/evolution in industrial systems (C. Babbitt/Williams/Tyler Labs - GIS, GSOLS) (
-       Retrofit of older light microscopes for fluorescent applications (
-       Imaging and modeling energy signatures of DNA-protein interaction (Thurston/Ross Labs - SP&A, SMS)

Selected Publications

Link to my publications list on PubMed 

Publications not listed at PubMed

Ryen E. Babbitt C.W. Tyler A.C. Babbitt G.A. 2013.  Community Ecology Perspectives on the Structural and Functional Evolution of Consumer Electronics. JOURNAL OF INDUSTRIAL ECOLOGY. 25 APR 2014, DOI: 10.1111/jiec.12130
Trotta V. Cavicchi S.  Guerra D. Andersen D.H. Babbitt G.A.Kristensen T.N. Pedersen K.S. Loeschcke V. Pertoldi C. 2011.  Allometric and non-allometric consequences of inbreeding on Drosophila melanogaster wings. BIOLOGICAL JOURNAL OF THE LINNEAN SOCIETY 102:626-634.
Babbitt G.A. 2011. Chromatin Evolving. Despite our long familiarity with the chromosome, much about its function and evolution remains a mystery.  AMERICAN SCIENTIST 99(1): 48-55.  (Cover Feature Article) reprinted in INVESTIGACION Y CIENCIA (Spanish language edition of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN)
Babbitt G.A. and Frederick P.C. 2007.  Selection for bill dimorphism in ibises: an evaluation of hypotheses.  WATERBIRDS.  30: 199-206.
Babbitt G.A. 1996. The effect of collection size on reproduction in captive Caribbean flamingos: direct stimulation, social facilitation or random chance?  Proceedings of the AZA Western Regional Conference, Denver, CO.
Babbitt G.A. 1995.  Seasonality and captive management of the Marabou Stork. Proceedings of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association Great Lakes Regional Conference, Louisville, KY. 
Burtt E.H., Chow W., and Babbitt G.A. 1991.The occurrence and demography of mites in Tree Swallow, House Wren and Eastern Bluebird nests.In Bird-Parasite Interactions, J.E. Loye and M. Zuk, Eds.  Oxford Ornithology Series, Oxford University Press.